U.S. Ski Team downhill ace Leanne Smith, the only member of the women's national team to ascend the World Cup ranks after pursuing a collegiate ski racing career, is facing a second straight setback season following her planned comeback from a muscle tear last winter. On crutches and in a knee brace, Leanne toughed it out through the media rounds during the U.S. Ski Team First Tracks event this past week.
The two-time U.S. Olympian from North Conway is expected to be sidelined for the next three months after undergoing surgery two weeks ago on her right knee. Leanne is in good spirits and is determined to make come back.
The Granite State native, who spent a year at the University of New Hampshire before being named to the U.S. Ski Team in 2007, had the best season of her career in 2013 with two podium results (at Val d'Isere and Cortina d'Ampezzo) on the grand stage. Leanne was hopeful of moving further up the rankings in 2014-15, highlighted by the World Championships on home soil, but her World Cup campaign last year was dashed before it even started after she suffered an early-season injury which she can trace all the way back to one sustained when she was a young teenager.
"About a year ago from now (last November), I tore my quad muscle and the reason that I tore my quad muscle was because of the knee pain that I was having in my joint. ... It was shutting my quad down," Leanne said in an interview with SkiRacing.com. "But the root of the problem is when I was (13), I tore a bunch of cartilage and meniscus. Back then, they just snipped it. ... If you do the math, it's about 15 years of (my) knee trying to protect itself. It grows all of these bodies to make a more stable knee as it starts to deteriorate. Most people are having those injuries in their late teens or 20s, and (surgeons) are suturing them back up all nice. The problem was I had it as a little kid, and it's been years and years of skiing hard on it and beating it into the ground."
Leanne posted the following on her Facebook page on Monday:
"Unfortunately, another surgery was done two weeks ago on my right knee. I am all fixed up and my lateral retinaculum is sewed back together again. It looks like about a three month recovery and then I can start to push things in the gym and hopefully be doing some skiing in the spring.
"Thank you all for the love and encouragement, it means a lot. I hate to be in this position again, but the future is looking bright. And thank you to my sponsors for the continued support, you guys are the best! @rossignol @pocsports @reuschbrand @swixsport @accapothecary @cranmoremountain.
"Here we go! Good luck to my teammates and the rest of the @usskiteam."
- Category: Personalities